Thousands of tiny weavers are busily looping, threading and spinning the greatest masterpiece of their lives. This inspiring story has a creepy twist, though. The little weavers are small enough to crawl in the palm of your hand. They are, of course, spiders. And they have united in force to create a monster web in Texas, USA.
The epic web network hangs in the trees along CA Roan Drive, which runs through Lakeside Park South. It is extremely unusual for spiders to unite and create webs together as traditionally they prefer to work alone. This group dynamic is an indicator that the conditions are right to support such a large number of arachnids, including a glut of food (like midges and small insects) available to the spiders. These flying critters appear from the lakes at night, which signal dinner time for the spiders. If there weren't an abundance of tasty spider-snacks, then the arachnids wouldn't build a communal web.
Fortunately for any freaked-out residents, the spiders aren't aggressive and won't bite or pose a hazard to humans. They have been identified as Tetragnatha guatemalensis, otherwise known as 'long-jawed orb weavers.' These spiders have been spotted making large communal webs similar to this one in the past, but it is not a common occurrence.
Long-jawed spiders. Mike Merchant/Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Back in 2007, the same species of spider was responsible for an enormous group web in Lake Tawakoni State Park about 56 kilometers (35 miles) away from this more recent construction. This occurrence was much more of a surprise to spider experts.
“At the time, the discovery of the web was more than creepy – it was a revelation to many arachnologists – spider experts,” Mike Merchant, an entomologist from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, explained. “That’s because spiders typically work alone to construct their webs. So finding spiders working together to build a huge web in what was more of a cooperative or ‘communal’ scenario was a real surprise for many experts.”
He added that there was no need to remove the web. “Insecticides or other treatments are really unnecessary as this spider is essentially harmless and, although the communal nest may look spooky, they too are basically benign and are a sight more to be appreciated than feared."
“But please don’t touch the art."
[H/T: AgriLife Today]